Christmas Plants

After Bloom Care for Poinsettias.

LATE WINTER/ EARLY SPRING

Poinsettias have long-lasting flowers so their bracts will remain showy for several months. During this time, side shoots develop below the bracts. To have a well-shaped plant the following year, cut each of the old flowering stems or branches back to 4 to 6 inches in height. Leave one to three leaves on each of the old stems, new growth comes from buds located in the leaf axils along these stems. Cutting the plant back in February or early March helps the buds grow and develop.  Keep you Poinsettia in a sunny area where the temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees, and fertilize every 2 weeks.

LATE SPRING & SUMMER

Between July and August 1, prune all shoots to about 4 inches, leaving about one to three leaves on each shoot.

FALL

In order for the Poinsettia bracts to turn color again, the plant must be kept in complete darkness for 12-15 hours from the end of September until color shows in the bracts in early to mid-December. The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees. Night temperatures above 70 to 75 degrees may delay or prevent the plant from turning red. Hopefully you’ll have a beautiful plant for Christmas.

How to Care for Your Poinsettia

We’ve all seen the poinsettias arrive at grocery stores, garden centers, Costco and Sam’s Club looking absolutely beautiful and then, a few days later, looking like they needed to be thrown out. This isn’t because they’ve been neglected, it’s because they’ve been over-watered and are not getting enough light. Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbia family and their leaves should become soft and droop a little before you water them. The green leaves fall off from too much water and then you’re left with an ugly bare stem that has a few red bracts on the top. If your poinsettias already look like this, go outside and cut a few small branches off of a fir or pine tree and fill in the bottom of the plant.

Follow these simple care instructions, and you’ll have lovely poinsettias into January.

Poinsettias need very bright indirect light but no direct sun. The light from a north-facing window is not adequate. If you place your plant close to a window, be sure none of the leaves touch the glass since the cold damages poinsettias.

Allow at least the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering to prevent root rot, green leaves falling off, and bare stems. Severe under-watering, when the plant badly droops, causes both green and colored leaves to fall off.  Water drops on the leaves makes unsightly white marks.

Poinsettias last longer and look better when the temperature is between 65-70 degrees during the day and about 60 degrees at night. Temperatures that are too hot or too cold damage the leaves and can also cause leaf drop. Keep Poinsettias away from drafty doors and windows, fireplaces, heaters, and the tops of appliances that give off heat.

Poinsettias, despite all rumors, are not poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets., though themilky sap of the plant may cause minor skin irritations, especially for people who are allergic to latex.

Is Mistletoe Poisonous?

The old tradition of kissing under the mistletoe has been around for a very long time, and the temptation for a small child or pet to munch one of the pretty red berries is always there. So is mistletoe really poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. or is it just an old wives tale? The truth is that it really depends on the variety of mistletoe that you have and what part is eaten. Since the side effects of eating mistletoe, such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and diarrhea, can be very serious; and since we are really never sure what type of mistletoe we have, always keep mistletoe away from children and pets. The poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. ingredient, Phoratoxin, is found in all parts of the plant, but especially in the leaves. If any part of mistletoe is ingested immediately call:

American Association of Poison Control Centers

                                    1-800-222-1222

 

mistletoe2

How to Get a Christmas Cactus to Bloom for Christmas

Flowering Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

We all hope our Christmas Cactus, (Schlumbergera or Zygocactus) will bloom for Christmas. If you’ve taken good care of your Christmas Cactus during the year, about now you should be seeing the tips of the leaves beginning to grow. Soon the flower buds will develop at these tips, and around Christmas your plant should be in full bloom.

There are several things that play a key role in helping a Christmas Cactus to bloom at the right time. A Christmas Cactus is a thermo-photoperiodic plant, so starting about 4-6 weeks before Christmas it needs 12 hours a day of light and 12 hours a day of darkness. During this time, the ideal night- time temperature should be 50-60 degrees. Reduce your watering slightly and do not soak the soil, only moisten the top few inches.  Although a Christmas Cactus needs fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. when actively developing leaves, once the buds appear, do not feed the plant.

For more information on how to care for a Christmas Cactus go to:

http://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/christmas-cactus

 

 

How to Get Poinsettias & Christmas Cactus to Bloom

Two of everyone’s favorite plants for the Holiday Season are the Poinsettia (Euphorbiaceae pulcherrima) and the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera briggesii or Zygo Cactus)). However, these plants don’t necessarily bloom naturally during the month of December. They are both photoperiodic plants and have to be tricked into flowering at the right time. Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus, as well as other flowering plants such as Kalanchoes, use a photoreceptor protein to sense when seasonal changes are occurring and nights are getting longer.

Starting in October, we need to keep these plants in total darkness for up to 14 hours a day and then place them in bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. the rest of the time. This way, we can force them to bloom exactly when we want. Read more about how to care for these plants in the Popular HousePlant section of the website.